Saturday, January 26, 2008

Obama Wins S.C. By A Landslide!

Watching the Obama victory speech in South Carolina, I was very encouraged. Not just because I feel Obama is the best candidate in the field of Democrats right now, but because I saw so many young faces in the crowd at his rally. I have not seen this kind of participation by young people since I was a child. Back then it was John F. Kennedy who energized the youth of America, and though I was just a kid, I still remember him speaking and stirring something in myself as well.

Obama’s win was a landslide, and the number of voters more than doubled the total number of voters in the last presidential primary in South Carolina. That shows the energy he brings to the party and if we are going to take back our country, we will need that kind of energy and participation. I hope Super Tuesday is another such victory for Obama.

Friday, January 25, 2008

NY Times Slams Giuliani - Endorses McCain

You would think a paper like the New York Times would endorse heir home town boy for GOP nominee. Instead they are backing, albeit with many reservations, John McCain. Why are they disserting the Mayor who has become synonymous with 9-11 and was called at one time “America’s Mayor”? Well this passage from the Times editorial might give you a clue.

“The real Mr. Giuliani, whom many New Yorkers came to know and mistrust, is a narrow, obsessively secretive, vindictive man who saw no need to limit police power. Racial polarization was as much a legacy of his tenure as the rebirth of Times Square.”
Wow! And to top it off they go on to detail his bad judgement in firing Police Commissioner William Bratton, known to be the architect of NYC’s successful plan to reduce crime. Giuliani dumped him in favor of a friend, Bernard Kerik, who has now been indicted on fraud and corruption charges.

Now with the Florida Primary looming, it’s Rudy’s last stand, and I give him 9-11 odds against him. Perhaps his 15 minutes of fame will come to an end next week.

As for Democrats, the Times endorses Hillary Clinton. Not my choice but as the Senator from NY it is not surprising.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Keith Olbermann Names John Gibson "Worst Person" For Heith Ledger Slur

Dennis Kucinich Drops Presidential Bid

For more coverage of Dennis Kucinich, go to the Openers blog

Human "Pet" and Trainer Tossed From Bus In London

I always find it interesting how people find ways to discriminate against sexual minorities. On the other hand I also find it interesting how little respect some folks in our community have for others sensibilities. My case in point is one that happened last week in London.

Tasha Maltby enjoys living the role of “pet” for her boyfriend and Master. She also dresses in what we in America call “Goth” style. Recently she and her Master were thrown off a bus in London when the driver refused to allow her on wearing a collar and on a leash. He stated flatly, “we don't let freaks and dogs like you on.”

No I have to hand it to the bus driver for recognizing her role as a pet or dog, but his instance that they get off was a bit much. Additionally, the couples insistence in carrying their role-play into a public and very much “non-consensual” space seems at fault here as well. Having a BDSM scene in public may be fun, but it does not respect the sensibilities of strangers. That said, I have done scenes in public before, but they were always “stealth” scenes where to the casual observer, nothing very odd was happening.

What this incident does is drive home two important points. First that we as a community are a sexual minority and as such face discrimination. For a lot of people, particularly straight BDSM folks, the subject rarely comes up. However incidents like this highlight the very real discrimination BDSM people can face, no matter what their sexual orientation. Second this reminds us that public spaces are rarely the right spots for a scene. Just as sex in a public place is a bad idea, so is a BDSM scene, at least a visual one like this one.

The good thing is the bus company said it apologized if the couple felt they had been discriminated against. Now I wonder if the couple has apologized to the people they dragged into their scene without consent?

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Kucinich Introduces Impeachment Articles January 28

Dennis Kucinich will present Articles of Impeachment against President Bush on January 28. He accuses the administration of lying to the American public and leading the country into a war illegally.

The day of the introduction is no accident. The same day as the State of the Union speech is a sweet irony for Kucinich. As he has said, “We know the State of the Union,” he declared. “It’s a lie.”

Write your Congressperson and support the Impeachment Resolution and maybe we can get it back on the table before it is too late.

Fox's John Gibson - Mocks Death of Heath Ledger

Sometimes the term “scumbag” gets redefined. This time it is by the Fox radio “personality” John Gibson. His mocking of the death of Heath Ledger was so far beyond anything tasteless I have heard he has reserved himself a place beside the word “scumbag” in the dictionary.

Here is some of his “humor” as noted on

Playing an audio clip of the iconic quote, “I wish I knew how to quit you” from Ledger’s gay romance movie Brokeback Mountain, Gibson disdainfully quipped, “Well, he found out how to quit you.” Laughing, Gibson then played another clip from Brokeback Mountain in which Ledger said, “We’re dead,” followed by his own, mocking “We’re dead” before playing the clip again.

Gibson is not only tasteless, his “jokes” must feel pretty funny to Ledger’s family. My question to Gibson, whose death would Jesus mock? Time to get Gibson and the entire Fox network off the public air waves.

Stephen Colbert Salutes Civil Rights - An Amazing Show

If you didn’t watch Stephen Colbert last night you missed a fantastic piece of history. As part of his Martin Luther King tribute, Colbert gave a history of the Charleston Hospital workers union strike of 1969. Through archive photos and footage, Colbert told the story of how the civil rights struggle that manifested itself as the strike was settled. The key players in the settlement were Andrew Young, part of Dr. King’s inner circle and the newly-appointed vice-president of the medical college James Colbert.

If you noticed a similarity in the name it’s no coincidence, turns out it was Stephen Colbert’s father and to prove the point the camera tilts down the photo of James Colbert to show his son, Stephen. As further connection to the events, Colbert’s guest for the evening was Andrew Young himself. It was great television! Their interview discussed those events from 1969 but segued easily into the Writer’s Strike and how Colbert might start the behind-the-scenes work to start settling the strike. It isn’t often you are encouraged to do great things by a hero of the Civil Rights movement.

In typical Colbert Show fashion the interview ended with a musical finale featuring not only Andrew Young and Malcolm Gladwell (Stephens other guest) as well as the Harlem Gospel Choir singing “Go Down Moses”. Watch It!

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Plastics May Be Making Us Fatter

OK, I admit it I’m fat. Call me a bear, hefty or overweight, but the sad truth is I have a mid section that bulges and so far exercise and diet haven’t made it vanish. Now it looks like I might have been fighting a losing battle due to something beyond my control. In a recent study researchers are finding that many obese people have elevated levels of plastics in their bodies. No really, plastics!

The chemicals known as endocrine disrupters mimic natural hormones that control weight gain. So what does this mean? Well scientist I the study say our modern overweight problem is the result of too much food and not enough exercise and perhaps the addition of substances we ingest either voluntarily or inadvertently.

The rest of the story is in the Boston Globe.

Heath Ledger - Dead at 28

Actor Heath Ledger is dead at 28. CNN news just reported he was found dead in his apartment in New York by authorities. Pills were found near his body, but no autopsy has been performed yet. A tragic loss of a very talented actor.

What Happens in Vegas? Jon Stewart Debunks Clinton's Obama Smear

Fred Thompson as Willie Loman - Death of a GOP Salesman?

Has anyone noticed except me? Every time I look at Fred Thompson I keep seeing Willie Loman. Fred is a candidate perusing a dream that is just not going to happen. I knew it the moment I saw him speak and I think everyone else knows it as well.

Thompson might be a good actor and a nice guy, but he is not a President. Of course the same could be said for George Bush, the fake folksy stuff qualifies as acting, the problem is he actually is President. How the hell that happened is a matter for discussion. For Thompson, his dream of the White House seems driven as much by the hopes of the GOP to find a movement conservative who could carry the primaries as his zeal to win. The word zeal is misplaced here, because when I listen to him speak, I can’t help hearing that tired edge to his voice. His platitudes are equally as tired and overall he looks like a candidate on the way out.

The news media is expecting his “I am dropping out” speech soon. Besides, who could vote for that face?
UPDATE: And Willie Loman goes off quietly into the night. Fred Thompson has dropped out of the GOP race.

Think Tanks and Other Deep Thoughts

As I was reading the latest diatribe from the Family Research Council I realized that even though this group, founded by James Dobson, is blatantly fundamentalist and far right, they continue to get lots of press both in print and broadcast. On MSNBC, arguably not the most liberal news source, I listened to a discussion between Family Research Council's Tony Perkins, political analyst Lawrence O'Donnell and MSNBC host Dan Abrams. They were discussing Mike Huckabee’s stump speech and specifically the part where he says, “But I believe it's a lot easier to change the Constitution than it would be to change the word of the living God. And that's what we need to do, is to amend the Constitution so it's in God's standards rather than try to change God's standards so it lines up with some contemporary view of how we treat each other, and how we treat their families."

The political analyst and host were cautious with this claim. Tony Perkins, however, barged in with a ringing endorsement backed up by the old lie, “America…a Judeo-Christian nation, ought to bring its founding document in line with what he says is God's word, particularly on matters of a woman's right to choose and a couple's right to marry.”

I won’t belabor the rest of the conversation, but anyone who knows Dobson, Perkins and their organization knows where it was going. They dominated the conversation guiding the discussion toward their favorite topics, gay marriage and abortion. It’s not surprising , as that is their whole reason for existence. The Family Research Council, with it’s scientific sounding name is nothing more than a far right think tank, and as such it’s job is to disseminate information supporting its causes.

My question is this, why was there no one from a GLBT think tank on that panel? More specifically, why are there so few GLBT think tanks?

The answer I suspect lies in the same thinking that dominates most liberal and progressive thinking. That is, money spent on policy groups, think tanks and infrastructure could better be spent on good works, good causes and political support. That thinking is the Achilles heel of the liberal and progressive movement and the GLBT movement as well. Yes, there are a few groups like the Center for American Progress and Brookings Institution who regularly provide talking points and research papers for use by liberal and progressive policymakers, but they pale in light of their many right-wing counterparts.

Yes, there is the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, but they are not represented in every discussion of marriage and GLBT rights in the media. One organization cannot do it alone. We need a number of very aggressive and quite frankly stealthy groups like the Heritage Foundation and the Institute for Policy Analysis to carry our cause forward. We need our own version of the Family Research Council to provide lawmakers and the press with research and well-crafted policy statements that can affect the lawmaking process.

Now before I am accused of using the same dirty tricks that the right-wingnuts use, let me clarify a little. My point is about a subject near and dear to my heart and that is framing. As George Lakhoff makes abundantly clear in his book, Don't Think of an Elephant: Know Your Values and Frame the Debate, the real secret of changing public perception is to change the way the issue is discussed. Allowing the right to frame the debate immediately puts us liberals on the defensive. Even our name, “liberal” has been so successfully demonized by the right, that many call themselves “progressives” instead.

Having a few GLBT issue think tanks that can successfully frame the issues without sounding like GLBT activists could really make a difference in our cause. If you don’t believe framing makes a difference, look at the issue of “gay marriage”. Had we pushed the issue of equal rights under law, rather than the right to marry, we might already have it. When we use the term “marriage” it is charged with a lot of issues, and for many heterosexuals it implies sex. Face it, a lot of people are homophobic, they do not like to think about what we do in the bedroom, and pushing the issue of marriage makes the bedroom front and center.

Those same people might very well be swayed with an issue of human rights, and the right to marry would follow as a natural legal embodiment of those rights, but they would not have to think about it. After all Human Rights is the real issue. Marriage is just a legal construct that reflects the inequality just as serving n the military. Framing the issues as a human rights issues avoids the “ick” factor for many people and is much harder to argue against. Consider if the civil rights movement had made interracial marriage their key issue? We would still be drinking from separate water fountains, at least in the South.

Now who is going to step forward and come up with the funding to create some of these think tanks? Well I suspect there are not a lot of GLBT billionaires that would come forward, but you never know. It will probably take the work and funds of a whole lot of people to make that idea a reality, still why not give it a try?

Monday, January 21, 2008

Stephen Colbert Portrait Hangs At Smithsonian!

Life imitates art and art imitates life. Hard to tell which one is doing the impersonations, but Stephen Colbert now has his portrait hanging in the Portrait Gallery of the Smithsonian National Gallery in Washington, DC.

The portrait hangs as part of a spoof that Colbert did as he tried to get the Smithsonian to accept his portrait into their collection. The director of the gallery finally acceded to Colbert’s request and hung the painting temporarily. It sits between the restrooms above a drinking fountain. Not a bad location for a fake pundit!

Now crowds are turning up to see it and the portrait is having the unexpected effect of bringing people to the gallery who might not otherwise visit. Sounds like a win-win situation.

Click here to see the portrait at the National Portrait Gallery web site. This link may expire in a few months.

Free At Last! Joyous Martin Luther King Day!